Microsoft SCOM as a complete Management Solution for a VMware Environment

In “Using Microsoft SCOM to Manage the Performance of Virtualized Applications on vSphere“, we discussed how using the BlueStripe FactFinder Management Pack for SCOM, it was possible to get detailed application topology views along with end-to-end and hop-by-hop applications response time in the same management system a proven enterprise solution for managing physical and virtual windows servers (specifically Microsoft SCOM).

However, the previous article did not address the question of using SCOM to manage both VMware and everything that supports the VMware environment. We address this broader question in this post.

Using SCOM to Manage VMware vSphere (and it Supporting Infrastructure)

Let’s address the VMware vSphere part of this first. It is possible to use SCOM to effectively monitor and keep running a VMware environment. Notice that the goal is here not to replace vCenter as the Admin console for vSphere. Rather the goal is have a system that collects monitoring data from vSphere and then provides for a reasonable set of manual and automated actions to address problems.

Well it turns out that Veeam has addressed this requirement for quite some time with the market leading plug-in for SCOM that takes vSphere management data and feeds it into SCOM. The Veeam nworks MP Plus product has two important pieces to it. One piece pulls the data from vSphere into the SCOM console. The other piece include PRO tips that can take action based upon unique nworks metrics like memoryPressure, memorySwapRate, cpuReadyPct, and diskIOPS. You can set thresholds for these metrics (or use the defaults) and when the thresholds are exceeded PRO can, for example, re-balance your environment for you.

In the screen shot below you can see how the nworks plugin for SCOM has populated SCOM with both elements of a VMware environment as well as information about some of the supporting physical infrastructure.


The screen shot below shows alerts that are generated when the thresholds for some of the critical metrics get exceeded.


The diagram below shows how the architecture and data flow of the nworks PRO pack.

Veeam nworks Pro Pack

What About Everything Else?

Managing VMware is one thing. What about all of the hardware that potentially underlies a vSphere environment. If you go to the Microsoft PinPoint site, you can browse the catalog of plug-ins for SCOM. There are 299 plug-ins just for SCOM itself (just the Operations Manager part of SCOM). There are 70 plugins from Quest Software for for an incredible array of hardware and software ranging from 3COM switches to  DB2, NetApp, and many variants of Linux.

Going Back to Applications For a Moment

What is striking is the breadth and depth of monitoring and management that you can now accomplish in SCOM. SCOM clearly has out of the box excellent support for Windows Servers and the Microsoft Back Office products. Plug-ins extend SCOM into most if not all of the hardware that supports the environment. Veeam plugs vSphere into SCOM, and finally per the previous article (screen shot included again below for convenience), BlueStripes adds that valuable end-to-end application topology and response time view.

BlueStripe FactFinder Microsoft SCOMWrapping It All Up

So SCOM is the one place where you can get a complete picture of the hardware that supports your environment, your vSphere layer, deep monitoring into your Windows guests and Windows services (out of the box since SCOM comes from Microsoft), your vSphere environment courtesy of Veeam, and your applications topology and true application response time courtesy of BlueStripe. What this really points out is the wisdom of Microsoft’s management pack strategy (opening up SCOM for third party management packs), and even more importantly a fundamental difference in the partnering DNA between Microsoft and VMware. You have to ask yourself why companies bother to write management packs for SCOM. The first part of the answer is that SCOM is popular, but it goes much deeper than that. The real answer is that Microsoft embraces its partners who add value to Windows (and SCOM) and actively works with them on the Sales and Marketing front. This is in stark contrast to VMware who seems to view every vendor of management software as a competitor, and engages in no marketing or sales cooperation with any of them. If this comes down to a war between two big companies and one has 300 partners and the other has none, who do YOU think will win?